Fri, 08 Dec 2000

Aceh refugees to return home ahead of Idul Fitri

JAKARTA (JP): The Aceh administration, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, is set to return some 70,000 displaced people across the province to their homes ahead of Idul Fitri, which falls on Dec. 27.

"We hope these people can celebrate Idul Fitri and New Year in their homes," newly elected Aceh governor Abdullah Puteh told a media conference on Thursday.

Accompanying him were the Aceh Provincial Council speaker Tengku Muhammad Yus and the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Achmad Sujudi.

Puteh said the refugees had fled the natural disasters and violence that had recently affected all 13 regencies in Aceh.

The provincial government has disbursed Rp 1.22 billion to feed some 33,400 refugees. Secretary-general of the National Social Welfare Agency (BKSN) Ferry Johannes said the National Logistics Agency has also provided 400,608 tons of rice to feed the people for the next 30 days.

Each refugee is entitled to a Rp 1,500 meal allowance and 400 grams of rice per day.

Sujudi said the refugees should leave their shelters and would be allowed to bring their allotted 14-day allowance with them.

"We hope that they will not return to the shelters after the festive season," Sujudi said.

In a bid to accelerate the relief mission, the ministry also donated a total of Rp 2.31 billion on Thursday.

Governor Abdullah further said that Aceh was to receive some Rp 1.9 trillion in government-allocated funding for the 2001 fiscal year, which is far less than the Rp 5 trillion that had been demanded.

Meanwhile, violence continued to rage in Aceh as four people, including two activists, were killed, allegedly by soldiers, in Blang Mangan district, North Aceh on Wednesday, residents said on Thursday.

According to a source, the incident occurred when three activists with the International Rehabilitation Council for Tortured Victims (IRCT), were driving in a car bearing the organization's emblem to pick up two ill persons in Tanah Pasir and Blang Mangan districts in North Aceh on Wednesday afternoon.

"On their way to Lhokseumawe, security personnel ordered them to stop as they were passing Tanah Pasir Military Subdistrict Command," he said.

The activists with the IRCT were identified as field assistant Idris, nurse Ernita, and activist Bachtiar. One of the activists survived the shooting, while the identities of the two patients was not available. (50/edt/lup)